- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup unpopped popcorn
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 250ºF.
- In a large sauté pan set over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until a majority of the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve the bacon drippings.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved drippings, plus the vegetable oil, to a large stock pot over medium heat.
- Add the popcorn to the pot and cover it. Once you hear the first kernel pop, remove the pot from the heat for 1 minute. Return the covered pot to the heat, shaking it over the flame until all of the kernels have popped. (It may take up to 5 minutes for all of the popcorn to pop.) Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl, sprinkle in the cooked bacon pieces, tossing to combine, and set the bowl aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Then allow the mixture to boil, undisturbed, for 4 minutes. Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. (The caramel will bubbly vigorously once you add the vanilla.)
- Immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn, stirring to coat the popcorn and bacon.
- Transfer the coated popcorn into two 9×13-inch shallow baking pans.
- Bake the caramel corn for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
- Remove the caramel corn from the oven and spread it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet to cool completely before breaking it into pieces and serving.
recipe adapted from Just a Taste